Sharp Surges Third Day After Reports Banks May Forgive Loans

  • Debt amnesty may pave way for stake by government-backed fund
  • INCJ has been said to be considering a stake in display maker

Sharp Corp. climbed a third day in Tokyo after reports the debt-strapped display maker’s main lenders were considering forgiving loans to facilitate an investment by a government-backed investment fund.

The shares surged 14 percent to close at 150 yen, bringing their three-day gain to 25 percent, the most since May 2013. The stock briefly soared on Tuesday by as much as 36 percent, the most since 1974, with trading volume more than eight times the three-month average. Mizuho Financial Group Inc. and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. may forgive loans to secure an investment from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Kyodo reported without attribution Friday.

Sharp has endured more than 1.2 trillion yen ($9.8 billion) in losses over the past four financial years after lower-cost South Korean and Chinese rivals undercut its core business making liquid crystal-display televisions. The company remains dependent on its main lenders for survival, even after the banks accepted shares in the company in exchange for debt.

“Individual investors are buying Sharp to get short-term profit,” said Yasuaki Kogure, chief investment officer at SBI Asset Management Co. “Even if banks forgive loans, it won’t be a fundamental solution.”

Sharp’s years of losses has seen many institutional investors abandon the stock. All but one of the 14 analysts tracked by Bloomberg recommend selling the shares, with the other rating being a neutral.

The maker of displays for mobile phones, tablets and televisions is considering selling a stake in the LCD operation to the government-backed INCJ or to Foxconn Technology Group unit Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., people with knowledge of discussions within the companies have said.

Sharp said Oct. 30 its sales dropped 3.6 percent in the fiscal first half to 1.279 trillion yen as revenue from LCD TVs, tablets and solar batteries all decreased.

Japan’s Rating & Investment Information Inc. has a B- rating on Sharp, six levels below investment grade. The ratings company evaluated the company at AA as recently as May 2009.

Foxconn, assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, has signed a letter of intent to buy a stake in Sharp’s liquid-crystal display business in a deal that would give the Taiwan-based company management control, people familiar with the plan said in September.

Sharp President Kozo Takahashi is struggling under rising debt and has announced plans to sell the company’s headquarters, withdraw from the TV business in North America and cut back in solar panel manufacturing.

(Updates with closing share prices in second paragraph.)

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